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How to start a car with a bad fuel pump

At certain points, you may find that your car suddenly stops working. You just can’t start it. There are many causes leading to this annoying problem and one of them is a bad fuel pump. When your fuel pump works improperly, your internal combustion engine is not adequately supplied with fuel and air for the combustion and as a result you can’t start your car. In this case, many of you don’t know what to do. You just wait and wait. But we are here to tell you that you can temporarily start your car when a bad fuel pump situation occurs. In this comprehensive guide, we are distinctly honored to help you learn how to start a car with a bad fuel pump as well as how to know when your car suffers from a bad fuel pump and how to improve the lifespan of your fuel pump.

How does a fuel pump work? Where is it located?

How does a fuel pump work

First and foremost, let’s find out what a fuel pump does and where it’s located because if you want to learn how to start a car when you experience a bad fuel pump situation, you need to understand how it works and know its exact location.

A fuel pump is a fundamental component of your internal combustion engine. It takes the responsibility of pumping the fuel from the fuel tank to the carburetors or fuel injections, which disperse fuel into the combustion chambers of the engine. For this reason, a fuel pump is also called a fuel transfer pump. As mentioned above, when the fuel pump fails to operate properly, the combustion process can’t be performed due to the lack of ingredients.

Simple as it may seem, a fuel pump is actually like a factory. It combines mechanical or electrical forces with pressure. First, it acts like a sucker that sucks the gas or diesel from the fuel tank and then the fuel is filtered through a mesh screen to make sure that the tank residue can’t pass through. After the filter stage, the fuel is fed into the metering pump, where the plunger-like mechanisms push, pull, spin and jostle the fuel until the fuel achieves the required pressure. Once it does, it’s pushed out of the pump, down through the pump line and a tiny nozzle sprays a fine mist of fuel into the combustion chamber, in which the fuel mist is mixed with air at a fixed proportion. The mixture then is ignited to create the combustion. That’s how a fuel pump works.

Now where does the fuel pump lie? In fact, it depends on the type of engine that your car is equipped with. If your car has a carbureted engine which uses a low pressure pump powered mechanically, then your fuel pump is attached outside the fuel tank. But your fuel pump is mounted inside the fuel tank if your car has a fuel injected engine whose fuel pump is powered electrically. For some cars with fuel injected engines, there are two fuel pumps one is in the tank and one is on or near the engine. Make sure that you know which engine your car is equipped with so you can locate the fuel pump and apply our guide on how to start a car with a fuel pump effectively.

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What causes a fuel pump to fail?

What causes a fuel pump to fail

Now that you have known how a fuel pump works and where it resides, it’s still not the time to get to the main part. Let’s have a look at factors that cause a fuel pump to fail in advance. Because it’s an accepted logic that if you want to find out how to start a car with a bad fuel pump, you need to know what causes a fuel pump to fail.

It’s the temperature that affects a fuel pump. A pump is always moistened with fuel, which makes it stay cool and functional. If a pump gets heated, it performs in a malfunctioning way.

There are two common reasons that lead to the bad performance of a fuel pump. The first one is that you frequently empty the fuel tank. You have a habit of not refilling the fuel in the tank until the fuel completely runs out. This is a bad habit and it shortens the intended lifespan of your fuel pump. When a tank is often left empty, there is no fuel shield that protects your fuel pump from overheating and as a result your fuel pump dies. The second as well as the last reason is that you turn off your engine when the fuel reaches the minimum level. Once you do this, the fuel drains from the priming chamber and as you start the engine, it makes the pump become hot and stay unprimed. It may not lead to the malfunction instantly, but if you do that several times, the pump motor is burned and your pump is dead, no doubt.

What are the symptoms of a bad fuel pump?

What are the symptoms of a bad fuel pump

Now we will walk you through some symptoms which indicate that your car is suffering from a bad fuel pump. This is really important as the part right after this one on how to start a car when the fuel pump goes bad only works if your car shows the exact following signs:

Engine starting difficultly

Over time, your fuel pump “gets old” and it can’t perform as well as it did at the first place. It’s inevitable. At this point, your car’s fuel pump can still pump the fuel to start the combustion but it’ll take time as its strength is deteriorated. It will take you more time to crank your car up or you’ll have to turn your keys umpteen time to get your car started.

Of the worst case scenario, your car may crank, rev but won’t start. That’s when you know that your fuel pump completely malfunctions.

Engine stalling at a high temperature

There are many factors that lead to stalling but when you see that stalling happens frequently and your car’s thermometer alerts high temperature then it’s a high likelihood that it’s caused by your fuel pump motor. If stalling goes on and your gauge keeps warning you about the high temperature, your fuel pump has reached its limit and it needs replacing.

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Engine Sputtering

This is the most conspicuous sign which shows that your fuel pump is going bad. When you are driving at high speed and you notice that your engine sputters before it operates normally, the chances are your fuel pump is having an issue. The cause that makes your engine sound annoying is that the fuel pump is not in a position of providing a constant stream of fuel at the ideal pressure.

Engine surging

This happens when the pump is sending gas in an abundant amount to the engine. When your engine is supplied too much with gas, it surges as a warning sign. However, in some cases it could be the bad gas that causes your engine to surge. So if you are sure that your gas is of good quality, you should check your fuel pump when your engine surges.

How to start a car with a bad fuel pump?

How to start a car with a bad fuel pump

After providing you with all the basic knowledge of fuel pump, now we will take the distinct pleasure of giving you some guides on how to start a car with a bad fuel pump. But we have to tell you that these following tips are temporary fixes, not solutions to your bad fuel pump. They only help you to buy some time so that you can drive to the nearest car store or your house.

Use the fuel pressure gauge

This is considered one of the best ways of temporarily fixing when you want to deal with the bad fuel pump problem. The fuel pressure gauge will monitor the fuel pressure to make sure that your fuel pump and your injector suffer from no damages in case of a bad fuel pump. Thanks to the fuel pressure gauge you can start your car when a bad fuel pump happens. All you have to do is attach the fuel pressure gauge to your car’s engine. It’s simple but super effective and professional.

Apply some external pressure

When a bad fuel pump happens, it will reduce the pressure needed for your car to operate or in other words the fuel pump fails to create enough pressure so that your car can run smoothly. That’s why applying some external pressure is said to be the best measure when you seek for tips on how to start a car with a bad fuel pump. You can apply some external pressure through the lines to help start the car.

Maintain the engine heat

When the engine of your car fails to start, your car will get cool and as a result your fuel pump resets itself and begins to stall. By supplying your engine with heat, you can keep it warm and start it. Not only does this way help your car function well but it also helps to stabilize the car’s best performance.

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How to improve the lifespan of a fuel pump?

Although a bad fuel pump is inevitable, there are some tips that you can follow to increase the lifespan of a fuel pump. This will help you save loads of money in the long term.

The first one that we would like to give you is buying fuel of high quality. As mentioned above, fuel keeps your fuel pump cool so fuel that is clean from debris will serve this purpose better.

The second one is always keeping track of the level of the gas in your tank. It is highly recommended that you keep a quarter at minimum.

The third one is frequently checking the fuel system and the filters. It will help you to prevent your fuel pump from malfunctioning early.

The fourth one is always making sure that your fuel tank does not go empty. If you do, the tank will overheat and affect the lifespan of your fuel pump.

And the last one is never feeding fuel into your car when the station tanks are being pumped. This can stir the debris that has settled in the tanks

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We have walked you through some tips on how to start a car with a bad fuel pump as well as helped you learn the signs that show that your car is suffering from a bad fuel pump. We highly recommend that you follow the tips on how to increase the lifespan of your fuel pump so that you can save your time and money. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. We will try our best to respond to you in the shortest amount of time.


How long does a fuel pump last?

A fuel pump on your car is usually designed to last for about 100,000 miles but in fact, it can last way longer than that if you pay good attention to it and give it a regular check.

How much does it cost to replace a fuel pump?

According to the research results of some experts, a fuel pump replacement will cost you from $220 to $1,062 on average. The cost depends on what type your car is and how old your car is. The cost includes the price of the part and the price of labor. The price of labor ranges from $124 to $260. If you can replace a fuel pump on your own, you can save that amount of money.

Can bad gas damage a fuel pump?

Definitely yes. Gas can serve as an armor that protects the fuel pump. If the gas is of poor quality, your fuel pump is vulnerable and therefore it’s quite likely to malfunction.

Can a car drive with a bad fuel pump?

Yes you can. But if you have a bad fuel pump problem, we advise you to go to see the mechanic as soon as possible. Because if you let a bad fuel pump last long, it will cause some side effects like deteriorated fuel economy, frequent engine failures or power loss.

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